Looking back at the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, one lesson that even those not in the storm’s path can take away is that the time to prepare for an emergency is not during the emergency. With Hurricane Irma now on its way toward Florida, Stratfor Chief Security Officer Fred Burton offers a few tips on how individuals and families can create an emergency kit, bug-out bag or “go bag” so they’re ready for any potential evacuations and not caught unprepared when disaster strikes.
A “go bag” can help ensure you and your family are equipped with the basics you may need in any natural or manmade disaster. The kit should be kept in a convenient place where you can grab it and go without delay, whether you’re evacuating in the wake of hurricanes, floods, forest fires or any manner of threat. Common items to have in your kit include:
- First aid supplies
- Knife and/or multi-tool
- Duct tape
- Waterproof case or bag for phones or other electronics
- Spare charger and batteries
- Important documents like passports, birth certificates, licenses, deeds and vehicle titles
- Smoke hood
- Nutritional bars
- Emergency blanket
- Personal toiletry items
- Change of clothes
Burton says that even if it is impractical to keep all of these items in constant readiness, keeping most of them together along with a prepared list for things like medication that can be collected quickly can make a significant difference. He also notes that each “go bag” will be different, suiting your or your family’s unique needs.
Other advice when developing your personal contingency plan includes keeping vehicles fueled, determining an evacuation destination that can be reached with a single tank of gasoline and keeping an appropriate amount of cash on hand. Additional disaster preparedness resources are also available from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.